|Collection||Pearce Civil War Collection|
|Title||Albert Woodcock Papers, 1863-1865|
|Dates of Creation||1863-1865|
|Scope & Content||
Letters, military records, photographic material, and a regimental history (1863-1875; 218 items) document the military career of Albert Woodcock. Of particular importance are Woodcock's letters written between February 1863 and April 1865. His letters document troop movements, battles, slaves, southern women, and his relationship with his wife and two children: "Bertie" and Frank. Letters document the regiment's participation in numerous battles and campaigns. Of particular significance are letters describing fighting at Fort Donelson and Fort Henry (February 4, 1863); Franklin (March 7, 1863); Columbia (March 13, 1863); the Tullahoma Campaign (May 29, 1863; June 23, 1863; July 5, 1863); Chattanooga (September 7, 1863; September 29, 1863; October 2, 1863; October 5, 1863; October 11, 1863); Lookout Mountain (November 23-24, 1863); the Atlanta Campaign (January 2, 1864; May 4, 1864); Resaca (May 28, 1864); Jonesborough (August 24, 1864; September 11, 1864); and the Savannah Campaign (December 17, 1864). He also described the conditions of the men and their horses. On July 15, 1863, Woodcock wrote that the Ninety-Second was to be assigned to Wilder's Brigade and given horses and Spencer repeating rifles. By July 28, Woodcock had received his horse naming him "Rosy" after General Rosecrans. In October, after being on half-rations for some time, Woodcock described the regiment's horses as "beginning to look like the renowned stud of Don Quixote" (October 2, 1863). As the regiment remained entrenched around Chattanooga, Woodcock described the effect the fighting had on the men: "The bursting shells make our colored gentry prick up their ears & some times look almost white. What effect their unpleasant screaching & crashing have upon our faces I can not report" (October 5, 1863). On October 11, 1863, Woodcock continued to worry about the lack of food for men and horses. Still, he remained optimistic: "our country must & shall be preserved though thousands & thousands more true patriots sprinkle our countrys altar with their blood."
Woodcock also candidly assessed American politics and the actions of Union officers in his letters home. Of the Conscription Act, Woodcock hoped it would "draw into the service 600 or 800,000 more . . . to crush out the rebellion at once & have done with it." Moreover, the act would "bring into the service many of those 'harpies' at home who have been too mean or cowardly to enlist" (March 3, 1863). On May 7, 1863, Woodcock expressed doubts in Hooker and his army. Five days later, he listed several rumors noting that only the rumor about Van Dorn's death was correct. June 22, 1863 Woodcock wrote that the rebellion must be crushed, or the government would be a failure. On November 11, 1863, Woodcock compared Union General George Thomas to George Washington. In June 1864, Woodcock estimated that the war might last another four years (June 25, 1864). November 3, 1864, Woodcock told Lute that her letters "smell strongly of politics." Still, he hoped and prayed for Lincoln's success in the coming election.
Woodcock's letters are also an important source for social history. For example, the letters provide insight into the experiences of runaway slaves. On February 24, 1863, Woodcock described Sam, a runaway slave he had employed as a servant and cook. Woodcock noted that a recent issue of the Louisville Democrat had ran an ad offering a $100 reward for Sam's arrest. Sam is mentioned in many subsequent letters home. On May 12, 1863, Woodcock wrote that Sam's heart was "aflutter" over the many black women in camp. Three days later Woodcock wrote that Sam declared himself virtuous: "he will never leave any little Sams in slavery." On May 26, 1863, Sam killed a pig to help feed the men of the Ninety-Second. In the spring of 1864, Woodcock sent Sam north to Illinois. On May 31, 1864, Woodcock warned his wife not to treat Sam too kindly. Apparently, Lute Woodcock allowed Sam to eat at the table with her. In the same letter Woodcock wrote that he wished to bring "Uncle Phil" home, too. "Uncle Phil," also a runaway slave, had worked for Woodcock as a cook and servant. On July 13, 1863, Woodcock wrote, "I always find friends among the colored." In that same letter he described Clem, a runaway slave who was a "fine-looking" man despite being crippled by his master. On March 20, 1864, Woodcock described meeting a twelve-year old mulatto boy who had been arrested for stealing. The boy, Woodcock wrote, was the son of a white master and his female slave. The boy's father later sold him to a "Mr. Miller."
Woodcock's letters are also notable for their descriptions of southern women. Southern women were "snarly and scrappy" (September 29, 1863); however, as Woodcock later wrote, ". . . they dare not insult us for they remember 'Beast Butler.' Still they are as venomous as the snakes of these swamps" (January 1, 1865).
Finally, Woodcock's letters provide insight into his relationship with his wife and children. Many of his letters home were directed to his two sons. Notably, on October 30, 1863, Woodcock described war to his sons: "You know my son when there is an awful storm in the sky how the lightning flashes & what fearful bellowing the thunder makes; well this is the way it sounded in battle, only the noise was louder and more terrible." On May 30, 1864, Woodcock described Uncle Phil in a letter home to Bertie. That same day he also wrote a letter to Frankie reminding him to be "a little soldier." Like any soldier Woodcock welcomed letters from home: "the greatest joy a soldier has is letters from home" (February 19, 1863) and "home letters inspire the soldier" (July 16, 1863). However, Woodcock confessed that he kept home letters for only a few days before burning them (August 2, 1863).
Also included in the collection are photographic prints of Lute and Albert Woodcock. The originals are held by the Byron Museum of History in Byron, Illinois. Military documentation and a regimental history, published in 1875, complete the collection.
The collection does not include any letters from Woodcock prior to February 1863. Also, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville holds one letter written by Woodcock written May 6, 1863. As noted above, Woodcock destroyed letters from home so the collection does not include letters written by Lute Woodcock or her sons.
|Finding Aids||Available in the archives or online at www.pearcecollections.us|
92nd Illinois Mounted Volunteers
|Credit line||Pearce Civil War Collection|
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Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.